When we lived in Montreal, Alan and I were very active members of the Pointe-Claire Canoe Club. We started out with just taking massive sea kayaks out for a bit of paddling around the lake (which is actually a river, but that’s another story) but we soon joined the club’s very first dragon boat team and started playing with the racing canoes and kayaks. For four summers, we were at the Canoe Club every single day during the summer, sometimes twice a day. We competed with the dragon boat team all over the place and had a blast. We went from being a team in which only three people had ever picked up a paddle before to winning a medal in a major competition in 3 years. I had never had as much fun practicing a sport and during our time at the club, we met all of the young athletes who worked and practised at the club. One of those young athletes is Tom Hall, a medal hopeful for Canada at Beijing. It was very exciting to watch Tom overcome a bad start and win his semifinal heat this morning. Go Tom!!
My favourite Olympic moments yesterday:
Michael Phelp’s seventh gold medal in these games (a tie with Mark Spitz’s record) came in a very exciting 100m butterfly race in which it looked like he wasn’t going to make it. And then, at the very end, when the Serbian swimmer had all but won, Phelps out-touched him by a finger nail. Literally, 1-100th of a second. It was all in the fact that Cevic chose to glide the last half meter or so while Phelps simply swam into the wall. Very dramatic and exciting to watch.
Another very special event was the 50m freestyle in which Cesar Cielo won the first swimming gold medal in Brazilian history. He swam a brilliant race and was in tears afterward. Good for him.
I’m not ashamed to admit that despite all the politics and marketing, I’m a big fan of the Olympics. I even broke my resolution not to have a TV just so I could watch it. I have many friends who are athletes and my own stepdaughter used to be an international-level diver, so I have a good sense of the level of sacrifice and training that goes into pursuing an Olympic dream. Some of my favourite sports to watch are diving, swimming, rowing, canoeing, kayaking, track and field, soccer, tennis, some of the volleyball, cycling, and gymnastics.
Speaking of gymnastics, I was happy to see Kyle Shewfelt back on his feet and after watching the girls doing their magic, I had to dig up this video of Nadia Comaneci’s famous perfect 10s at the Montreal Olympics:
Of course the girls today are doing much harder tricks as the world of gymnastics has evolved much since the days of Nadia Comaneci but her grace and elegance are still an inspiration.
Picture taken during a rally in San Francisco against the upcoming Beijing Olympics.
I have one answer:
People need to study their history a little better… How about this exhibit from the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum?
I have been hearing a lot of people grumbling that the Olympics shouldn’t be about politics. That may be, but as my friend Heather Dichter would say, the games have been about politics ever since the Baron de Coubertain decided to revive the ancient Olympic games. Not much has changed.